Writing conversation: candles on a wintry night

Catharine writes:

I always used to put candles of various sizes and shapes on our supper table. One wintry night Neil leaned across to hand me my dinner plate. The heavy sleeve of his red dressing gown caught fire. Next thing I knew flames were shooting up his arm and across his back.

“Don’t panic!”, said Neil firmly as he followed me out to the kitchen. I picked up the tin of flour from the counter and threw it over him. Out went the flames. Surprisingly that old red dressing gown cleaned up like new and was worn proudly on many a winter night by its unharmed owner. Needless to say no more candles on winter nights.

Recently, when I had half an hour to pack to catch the last train to Kingston ahead of a huge Montreal snow storm, I could hear Neil’s voice saying calmly, “Catharine, don’t panic”. Good advice. I still wear that red dressing gown on a wintry night – now I can laugh.

Memoirs group (started by Ann Reid)

Who are you writing this for?

Is this: your life story

Family history

A stage of your life

An episode in your life

An individual in your life

Is this meant to be informative


Healing (a confessional)

Do you have, or know where to find the resources you need?

Do you want this writing to be cursive> (as a story) or episodic?

Now start writing – whatever comes to mind. Don’t plan and stifle yourself (not yet, anyway!) This will probably not be at all what you find on your finished page. It will help to clear your mind, sort out your thoughts and find your own rhythm. Writing helps to clarify your thinking. What you see on the page at first will not necessarily be all what your final result will be.

This will be fun. You will work hard and probably laugh a lot, and you will feel lighter in spirit – trust me!

Are you willing to share your work-in-progress with other memoir writers for encouragement or feed-back, questions, suggestions? If so, let’s plan a date…

Ann Reid

Montreal teacher and group facilitator, who also carried on a public affairs discussion group started by Neil in 2012 until her death in 2013.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Jan Morgan Says:

    It was a pleasure reading this and remembering Ann. I wonder, Catherine, if it isn’t time to retitle this blog. It has been interesting reading former blogs of Neil’s, but more and more it is becoming yours too and connecting up, as Neil always did with the world of the present. Neil and Catherine McKenty?

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